How Zinc Can Boost Your Immune Health

How Zinc Can Boost Your Immune Health by Dr. Joseph Mercola

In this short video by Dr. John Campbell, he reviews some of the science behind the association between zinc and the immune system. He believes it is one biological basis for an “altered resistance to infection.”1 But, beyond the immune functions I discuss below, it’s important to know that zinc plays other important biological roles.

For example, you have at least 300 enzymes that require zinc to function normally.2 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention3 has identified several common human coronaviruses that are responsible for upper respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Although a cold is usually a minor condition, it is also responsible for most doctor’s office visits every year.4

A cold can last as short as a week, but in children and the elderly it can last longer. Cold symptoms include stuffy head, runny nose, sore throat, headache and sometimes a fever.5 These are some of the same symptoms of influenza, but the symptoms are often worse and include fever and body chills.

It wasn’t until the work of Dr. Ananda Prasad in the 1970s that zinc was acknowledged as an essential mineral.6 A decade earlier, Prasad was studying young men who had grown up in Egypt and never attained their normal height.

After supplementing with zinc, the men grew “significantly taller.” In the 1970s, zinc was acknowledged by the National Academy of Sciences as a mineral fundamental to many aspects of health. Prasad collaborated with a scientist from the University of Michigan to demonstrate that zinc influences immunity.7

Research in the last decade has identified the crucial role that zinc plays in curtailing the length and severity of upper respiratory infections. A meta-analysis8 published in 2017 found those who took a zinc supplement of 80 to 92 milligrams (mg) each day at the beginning of cold symptoms saw a reduction in the length of their cold by 33%.

Although research has demonstrated the significantly positive effect zinc has on the immune system and on shortening upper respiratory infections caused by common cold viruses, further research in 2020 has demonstrated that zinc is crucial to immune system function and deficiency may be linked to individuals who have severe COVID-19 illness.9

Zinc Is Crucial for Normal Immune System Development

Since the 1970s, scientists have discovered several facts about zinc and how it plays a central role in the immune system. Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense. Whether this is against infectious disease, wound infections or chronic disease, your immune system plays a crucial role.

Researchers have spent decades studying the different ways that you can support your immune system to improve function. Nutrients play a vital role in supporting your immune system, and one of those nutrients is zinc. Swiss Policy Research (SPR), formerly known as Swiss Propaganda Research, describes itself as:10

“… an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit research group investigating geopolitical propaganda. SPR is composed of independent academics and receives no external funding other than retrospective reader donations.”

The group has gathered evidence and information throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The investigators believe that those who are either at high risk of getting COVID or at high risk for exposure to it should receive early or prophylactic treatment.11 They also propose that prophylaxis and treatment should contain zinc.12

Early and outpatient treatment from the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance,13 contains zinc, as does the protocol recommended and prescribed by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko.14,15 Zelenko created a website to facilitate crowd-source medical data from frontline primary care doctors around the world.16

There are academics who also support Zelenko’s efforts, including some at the University of Texas, which hosts a download page describing the history and citations behind the Zelenko Protocol.17 Zelenko and the Front Line critical care doctors used their knowledge of the association between zinc and your immune system to develop their successful protocols. Data have shown:18

  • People who are deficient in zinc have an increased susceptibility to pathogens, including through the skin barrier.
  • Zinc mediates nonspecific immunity, including natural killer cells and neutrophils.
  • Zinc deficiency prevents the activation of T-lymphocytes, production of Th1 cytokine, and the ability of B lymphocytes to help. During deficiency, B lymphocyte development is also compromised.
  • Deficiency affects the function of macrophage cells, which can trigger cytokine production and dysregulated intracellular death.
  • Zinc is central to DNA replication, RNA transcription and cell activation and division.

Evidence Zinc Helps Protect Against COVID-19

Campbell describes several functions by which zinc helps protect the body from COVID-19, including helping to stop viruses from entering the cells.19 Another function that zinc performs is in supporting the growth and function of ciliary hairs in the respiratory system.

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